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Kite Mapping

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Kite Aerial Photography has a large and active community of practitioners -- see if there are any living or kiting near you, and ask for help.

With kites, and a 5-20 mph wind, many of the objectives of balloon mapping can be achieved without purchasing helium or balloons. If you want to map a site with consistent winds, you may be in luck.

Towing kites

Kites can also be used in large flat areas with no power lines or trees, such as on oceans or lakes, beaches, or deserts, by towing them behind a boat, car, or bicycle. Keep in mind that it's typically impossible to turn or travel downwind.

recommended commercial kites

Kite Aerial Photographers, or KAPers, often select expensive kites which can lift large weights, and many use heavier, customizable cameras such as digital SLRs with remote control targeting or stabilization. If you just want to put a camera in the air for the lowest cost and highest reliability, we recommend a few different relatively inexpensive kites, paired with the Soda Bottle Rig.

Fled - ($110) stable, strong, light-wind kite that flies at a line angle of 65 - 70 degrees. This kite is very quick to set up and simple to adjust. It flies in a wide range of conditions, and is a "go-to" kite for many KAPers. The high line angle is very useful for flying in tight spaces.

Zenith Delta - ($70) 7 ft. wide - This one is fantastic, a strong and stable flyer in even light winds. I'd recommend this to anyone.

Levitation Delta - ($65) 9 ft. wide - another strong and stable flyer in 7-20mph winds. In high winds it can take some effort to reel in, as it has a lot of lift. The spars all split in half and it packs down easily to 40." Good, high flying angle.

Gomberg Delta Conyne - ($37) - Harder to launch, but once it's in the air it's a stable flyer. I think it's optimized for stable flight high up. Nice also that there's a space in the middle which we're going to try putting a camera in.

Recommended DIY Kites

Mathew Lippincott has made a series of Tyvek and Bamboo Fled kites based on the designs of Brooks Leffler. The third has been extremely successful at lifting cameras to very high flying angles, and he can now recommend others to build the same. follow his instructions in the link above.

There is also an easier to build Delta kite kit in development. See Mathew and Pat Coyle's work in progress.

Fled in the air